New study looks at impact of ride-hailing on Brockton Area Transit

Amanda Linehan
Communications Director
Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
617-933-0705
alinehan@mapc.org

Analysis examines ways BAT, Uber & Lyft can partner to provide better service in Greater Brockton region

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019

BROCKTON – Is the growth of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft affecting transit ridership in Greater Brockton?

A recent study by two regional planning agencies and the Brockton area transit authority is trying to answer that question.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in Boston and the Old Colony Planning Council (OCPC) in Brockton joined forces with the Brockton Area Transit Authority (BAT) to examine the issue of ride-hailing and its effects on local public transit routes.

The study looked at whether changing demographics or the growth of services like Uber and Lyft are causing a decrease in ridership on the BAT system and whether BAT service should be adapted to lure those riders back.

The study also looked at potential partnerships BAT could undertake with ride-hailing services to boost system performance and transit coverage areas.

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation continues to work with Regional Transit Authorities to help support their transit programs and identify ways in which their services and performance can be improved throughout the Commonwealth,” said MassDOT Administrator for Rail and Transit Astrid Glynn. “We are pleased that the Brockton Area Transit Authority facilitated this study to solicit key information that can be used to help inform future planning efforts.”

The report, completed in late June, included an online field survey that netted almost 600 responses, which MAPC collected in April. Survey questions were translated into multiple languages and answers were collected in person at the BAT Transit Centre, Massasoit Community College and the Westgate Mall.

According to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which tracks ride hailing numbers, 433,835 ride-hailing trips started in Brockton in 2017, with over 200,000 additional trips originating in the other communities that are part of the BAT service area. In 2018, usage increased by over 60 percent in Brockton and the other communities that make up the BAT service area.

In 2018, the average ride-hailing trip length was 4.8 miles and lasted about 15 minutes, prompting questions about whether the short, local nature of these trips was impacting BAT ridership.

“We are constantly evaluating our transit service based on performance, customer preference, and economic indicators. Due to the combination of significant public input and broad-based statistical trends, this report will enable us to develop new initiatives designed to meet the needs of the greater Brockton region,” said BAT’s Administrator, Michael Lambert.

MAPC completed a study of the Boston region two years ago that found almost 60 percent of ride-hailing trips would have used a non-polluting mode of travel such as public transit if Uber and Lyft were not an option.

“Only by working to understand these evolutions in the transportation landscape can we develop better forecasts of travel behavior and infrastructure needs, and measure our progress toward a more sustainable future,” said Rebecca Davis, Deputy Director of MAPC and member of the Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth. “We look forward to seeing how this analysis can benefit commuters across the Brockton area in the months to come.”

For more information and to read the full BAT report, visit http://www.mapc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Aug2019_BAT-Ride-Hail_REDUCED.pdf.